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Guest QcCowboy

I can name composers from three of the four universities in Montr

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I'll make a deal with all of you. Once you're as successful as Cage was, you can all do something totally obscure enough to make people raise eyebrows and argue its validity. I don't quite understand his 4'33" myself, but hey, maybe you don't really need to!

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Guest trumpetnerdz22

Aesthetics are usually not rooted in the tools originally used to create them anyway.

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I just had a revelation about 4'33" in the shower today...

In 4'33", you are both the performer and audience! I know this should be obvious, even self-evident, I'd never really realized it. This means that you're really involved in interpreting the music in two different ways - you're partially reacting to your own creation.

Universit

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I have to be honest and say that I've never met anybody interested in 'very modern' music who wasn't a musician. I suppose though that this may have been the case with older-generation 'avante-garde' composers, such as Debussy. I wonder how pieces like La Mer initially went down and who was going to see it performed? On the flipside, a lot of music that tries very hard to cater for as many people as possible is often quite forgettable.

Well, I guess it's true that today this "very modern" music is mostly listened to by other musicians (even though I know a fair amount of non-musicians who are quite interested in it). But hey, even musicians are an audience. And I think a major reason why many non-musicians never listen to this kind of music is that they are never exposed to it in the first place.

And I do think contemporary music was received somewhat differently in the beginning of the 20th century, but not necessarily better. There was this huge gap between tradition and new developments that opened during that time, so there were many scandalous concerts which were talked about a lot by quite many non-musicians too. Be that Debussy or Stravinsky. But the fact that those concerts had quite a cultural impact has less to do with the fact that the composers "wrote for the audience" (Stravinsky certainly didn't just write what the audience wanted), but with a general atmosphere in society during that time (especially in places like Paris) and the almost unprecedented level of breaking with established forms. (Whereas today it's become much harder to actually "shock" people with artistic concepts.)

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Well, I guess it's true that today this "very modern" music is mostly listened to by other musicians (even though I know a fair amount of non-musicians who are quite interested in it). But hey, even musicians are an audience. And I think a major reason why many non-musicians never listen to this kind of music is that they are never exposed to it in the first place.

As a teenager, I - like many others - had a mentor. He was a kind old man with a love for classical music. I was learning to play viola and was interested in learning about this vast musical experience that prior to that point in my life I had no knowledge of. My mother was a hippy (lol) and so the house was always full of rock. I would go over to Mr Johnsons house every weekend; mow the grass (got paid $$$), take care of his cats, and listen and learn from him as much I could about music. One weekend we were listening to a few modern works (Wozzeck was one I believe). I had never heard such noise - even in the most 'out there' psychedellic bands my mother had made me and my brother accustomed too. The emotions those pieces conveyed to me weren't really something that I wanted to indulge in - they weren't frightening, just not really ones I could easily connect with. For Mr Johnson, it was just noise. No emotional connection at all. The reason for this, is I think it gives a GOOD example to why modern music isn't well received. Its not that it isn't complex or not well composed - surely it is a style that definitely HAS its masters. But, for most people, there has to be a connection that can be felt. Whether its emotional or what not is on a person to person basis. I've since met people who can't stand the traditional stuff but just adore modern sounds - the harsher the better.

And I do think contemporary music was received somewhat differently in the beginning of the 20th century, but not necessarily better. There was this huge gap between tradition and new developments that opened during that time, so there were many scandalous concerts which were talked about a lot by quite many non-musicians too. Be that Debussy or Stravinsky. But the fact that those concerts had quite a cultural impact has less to do with the fact that the composers "wrote for the audience" (Stravinsky certainly didn't just write what the audience wanted), but with a general atmosphere in society during that time (especially in places like Paris) and the almost unprecedented level of breaking with established forms. (Whereas today it's become much harder to actually "shock" people with artistic concepts.)

I think its still possible to shock people - but, you have to be cunning to do it. Look at what Marilyn Manson did in the late 90s. Despite coming after quite a time where shock was norm....he managed to make a big impact on the psyche of quite a mass.

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For Mr Johnson, it was just noise. No emotional connection at all. The reason for this, is I think it gives a GOOD example to why modern music isn't well received. [

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I don't quite understand what you mean there. Your example shows that there are many people who don't like certain music (such as "modern" music) because they feel no emotional connection to it. Certainly. But how is that "an example to why modern music isn't well received", specifically?

I think that it was a good example as to why modern music isn't well received. To the average listener, it sounds random - despite being anything but random.

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As sad as it us, jawoodruff is kind of right - in the culture we live in, people often don't have the same emotional response to avant-garde music as they do to "normal" music (bad term, I know), possible because it's avant-garde, and like nothing most people have heard before. That's the harsh reality, I guess, and we as composers have to deal with that. However, there will always be people who go to new music festivals, etc. so I doubt most modernist composers will starve anytime soon. There's a good chance that as people forget the horrors of the '50s, they will be more appreciated as part of the wider world of composing.

Well, now most "avant-garde" music isn't really modernist - if any music can even be called avant-garde.

I personally find works by composers like Schoenberg, Webern, even Xenakis and Ligeti (and especially Berg and Penderecki) to be highly emotionally charged (even if they might not necessarily have been for the composer). On the other hand, I don't respond much to most works I've heard by composers like Cage (even his more traditional works), Stockhausen, Carter, and Birtwistle.

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I personally find works by composers like Schoenberg, Webern, even Xenakis and Ligeti (and especially Berg and Penderecki) to be highly emotionally charged (even if they might not necessarily have been for the composer). On the other hand, I don't respond much to most works I've heard by composers like Cage (even his more traditional works), Stockhausen, Carter, and Birtwistle.

It is interesting to me how music that is all pretty much equally modern can have varied effects on different people. As for your example, I feel the emotion in Schoenberg, Berg and Penderecki, but I actually get alot from Stockhausen too. I don't respond to Carter, but I find his music terrifically fascinating. I can hear the 'emotional' content in Ligeti, but I have never really FELT it, whatever that means... I find the music of Messiaen to be some of the most emotional music I have ever heard.. sometimes its almost too much to bear, but I still feel the emotional side too it, instead of dismissing it as too modern... while others I have spoken too just hear interesting textures, rhythms, melodies etc. but don't really get anything from it emotionally.

anyway.. that was kinda jumbled, this subject really is interesting to me though. I have no idea what might cause such differences. between people who appreciate more or less the same kinds of music.

Also, I almost feel silly using the word 'emotion'. Its the word most everyone uses in these cases, but for me its isn't really the same as an emotion.. Music to me has its own affective effect (there has to be a better way to say that..) that is similar to an emotion, but is unique to music. That is, i don't feel sadness, or happiness, or anger when I listen to music, (although it DOES make me happy :) ) but I do feel something.

gah.. sorry, I am rambling again... and its not even on topic.

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Messiaen is often too much for me! I love his music, but I can't listen to a lot in one sitting.

When using "emotion" with music, it's really more personal, I think - something the music evokes in you, and that you connect with prior experience. So yeah, the term isn't always appropriate (like, I don't "feel" anything specific when listening to Ligeti - it's really much more abstract). Still, I don't know of a better word to use!

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Hmmm...I'm starting to like this thread now!

For me, there are even some composers to whose music I don't even know if I'm responding! Like Schnittke - how do you respond to Schnittke? I love his music. Boulez, too, is kind of like this for me, although in completely different way. I like Schnittke better. :P

Anyway, I don't get much emotional response to 4'33", although it is an entertaining, and sometimes shocking experiment. There is always some noise, I guess, but the level of what Don DeLillo might call "waves and radiation" in audible form is kind of startling. Interesting commentary on society, if one chooses to interpret it that way.

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Also, I almost feel silly using the word 'emotion'. Its the word most everyone uses in these cases, but for me its isn't really the same as an emotion.. Music to me has its own affective effect (there has to be a better way to say that..) that is similar to an emotion, but is unique to music. That is, i don't feel sadness, or happiness, or anger when I listen to music, (although it DOES make me happy :) ) but I do feel something.

Music is spiritual. Emotions are feelings from the brain from the physical body. They aren't spiritual feelings. Emotions can be effected by spiritual feelings, but they aren't the origin of those feelings. Spiritual feelings, which are activated by few things in life, namely, God, love, music, art, etc. All of these things open up the spirit and affect the spirit rather than just the physical body. That's why music has such a profound effect on people.

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Music, to me, is spiritual. Emotions are feelings from the brain from the physical body. They aren't spiritual feelings, in my opinion. Emotions, in my opinion, may be effected by spiritual feelings, but they aren't the origin of those feelings. Spiritual feelings, which are activated by few things in life, namely, God, love, music, art, etc. All of these things open up the spirit and affect the spirit rather than just the physical body. That's why music has such a profound effect on people.

There, nicely editted to showcase that this is Tokke's personal opinion.

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A couple of thoughts (late to this thread- forgive me if they've been mentioned before)

Cage is a composer who I admire a lot, particularly because he was truly in love with the sounds he was creating. He truly believed that what we call, "sound" or "noise" was music. To him, what we call "music" was something fabricated, unorganic. The problem with a piece like "4'33" is that it's so easy to dismiss as a joke- a lot like the work of Margritte. We laugh (or complain) because we think he's trying to con us, but he did SIGNIFICANT research on the concept of silence before writing it. He sat in sensory depravation, he studied acoustics, etc. The point of the piece, to me, is less about "spontaneous music", and more about the ABSENCE of true silence. I've seen it performed several times, and if nothing else, I'm always VERY conscious of the ambient sound around me afterwards. That alone makes it a success...

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